Life, Culture and Travels from the perspective of a Cuban
A woman from 1912
Categories: XYZ

My oldest grandma is a 100 years old. To be more exact, three days ago she became a 100 years and a half old. Three days ago, she was also taken to the hospital and is now in intensive care. I think my grandma could die soon and my heart is shrinking. If she does not make it, someone who I love immensely and that loves me back is going to be gone for good. She will never see my kids or hug me again, I will never receive another advice from her or will be able to laugh at her sudden wise jokes.

It is not my intention for this post to be about her health condition at the moment. I already have a lot of that going through my head right now. As I write this, I would rather think about how privileged she has been in the last century and why I believe her life has been a plentiful one.

My grandma, like any other loving grandma, has kept me warm and fed for the largest part of my existence. I grew up six blocks away from her house so going to her place and doing whatever I wanted was a normal thing.  I usually tell people that I have one sweet grandma and one crazy grandma. She is the crazy one, because although she can be sweet sometimes, her impulsive and direct way has made her famous. You do not get in my grandma’s way because, hey, she has been the boss for a long time and her strength of character can leave you speechless. I think she could easily classify as the warrior type, always independent and wanting to do things her way.

When she married around 1930 her mariage did not turn out to be what she had expected. She divorced in the 40’s and with two children. It was certainly not a common event in Cuba of those times. Before I got married, she told me, standing in the kitchen: “Enjoy your marriage, do not have kids right away and you stay married as long as you are happy”.

A very good friend, who is a doctor thinks that my grandma’s genetics are unique and a case to study. Her hair never became gray (she only has a few gray hairs scattered on the sides of her head), she has kept most of her teeth and she has never even had high blood pressure. I know people who are 70 and are not as healthy and lucid as my grandma was with 99 years old. With that being said, she has always been cooking for everyone in the house, doing her own laundry by hand everyday (as she says that she does not need to wait for the machine to do it), knitting, reading and feeding all the cats that come her way.

When people state that I am going to live a long life I reply by saying: “I got the craziness of the family but not the genes.” The truth is that I met my grandma when I was six years old. The grandma I love so dearly is my stepfather’s mom. I’ve never hesitated to call this family my own as we have loved each other from day one, period. The day I met them all, my life became more colourful, chaotic and loud. It was wonderful. On my mother’s side of the family people have always had open doors for everyone and have been pretty social but they have been living in a more residential area of Havana. This side of the family has been living downtown and is way, way crazier.

During the “El Niño” storm in 1993, the areas near the sea got flooded and the neighbourhood was a disaster for over a week. My grandma created a semi shelter in her home and kept as many people as she could eating, sleeping and storing furniture. My grandma is crazy, but in a good way.

Unfortunately, she had to see her son die before her. I never saw such a devastated mother suffering with such courage and keeping the house from crumbling. If I ever was to lose my strength over something I must think of her coping with her pain during those times. She transmitted her strength to me during those hard times and she would repeat: “Niña, even to suffer you need to eat”. Life is about eating, crying, laughing, crying and eating some more. You just have to keep going.

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